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By Photo courtesy of Anthony McDemas
BY STEFANI DIAS Californian assistant lifestyles editor firstname.lastname@example.org
As disconcerting as change may be, it can also be a catalyst for great opportunity. This year is the test for Savor the Flavor, formerly known as the Tehachapi Food and Wine Festival, which debuts Saturday.
Kim Nixon, executive director for the Tehachapi Family Life Pregnancy Center, which organized the event, said the name change was key.
Savor the Flavor
When: VIP gates open at 5:30 p.m., regular admission 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday
Where: E and Green streets, downtown Tehachapi
Admission: $60, $100 for VIP, $30 for designated drivers (includes food and coffee/tea); because of the limited number of tickets, it is recommended to buy in advance at savortheflavortehachapi.com
"We renamed it (because) we wanted it to be identified as our event. Because we are a nonprofit and all the proceeds will benefit nonprofits. We wanted it to have a fresh look."
The name is just one of the new elements to this celebration of food, wine and craft beer. Biggest of all is the cap on attendance for the event, which last year drew 1,500. This year, the number was more than halved to 600 general admission and 50 VIP.
"It is being downsized ... so we can do the event extremely well. We can provide our guests with a unique upscale event.
"I think the flow will be a lot smoother. We have the same number of seats in years past, with several seating areas."
Seating will come in handy when it comes to the food. Along with food and beverage tastings from more than 30 vendors, dinner plates will be available from six vendors: Margaret's Catering, P-Dubs Grille & Bar, J's Place, Don Juan's, Too Licious and Tacos Buenos. Admission to the event includes a ticket for one dinner and additional plates can be purchased for $5.
Other food vendors include The Apple Shed, Padre Hotel, Linda's Cakes 'n Things, Veritas tapas & wine bar, King of Siam, Kasagiri and Fresh & Easy.
Keeping things interesting on the imbibing side are Souza Family Vineyards, Tobin James Cellars, Opolo Vineyards, Indian Wells Brewery, Pear Valley Vineyards, LaZarre Wines, Tap It Brewing Co. and more.
Along with the craft beers, guests who arrive earlier in the evening will be able to take part in judging the new home-brew competition. Nine contestants have been confirmed as of earlier this week.
"The home brewers are doing a best-of-event contest. All of the home brewers are bringing their creations, and, for the first hour and a half, anyone who would like to participate in the tasting and voting can come in and cast their vote."
Nixon said the winner, decided by votes, will be named at the event and receive a trophy.
Along with the alcoholic beverages, Starbucks coffee and iced tea will be available in the pavillion area, run by the Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council.
The area will also host the silent auction, which Nixon said will include a weekend at Rankin Ranch, Trader Joe's gift basket and items from participating wineries.
VIPs will have access to all the vendors as well an exclusive area just for them, Nixon said.
"They will have food that won't be served anywhere else in the venue as well as wine and craft beers. Bernards/Colombo is the lounge sponsor. We will have a host and hostess and exclusive vendors have provided items just for the VIP area. Most are from Bakersfield -- Cafe Med, Luigi's, Jake's Tex-Mex."
The VIP area will be located right across from the main stage, which will feature the Jim Scully jazz ensemble as the night's only act.
For those planning a safe night, the event has you covered. Designated driver tickets ($30) allow people not consuming alcohol to still enjoy the food and fun with friends. And the Best Western Country Park and Holiday Inn Express are offering reduced room rates for that night. (Tell the motel that you're attending the event to receive the discount.)
Along with looking out for attendees, the event aims to support its community, with all proceeds going to local nonprofits. Along with the family center and economic council, beneficiaries include the Tehachapi Kiwanis' high school scholarship fund, Tehachapi Youth Football and Tehachapi Valley Wrestling Club.
"If we sell out, which is our goal and expectation, we will be raising about $25,000. We had great sponsorship support."